Forest and Trees
Like many jobs in the world, particularly those that deal with humans, teaching requires focus on both forests and trees.
A teacher faces questions like these in the classroom:
What body of information do I need to convey to my students in a deep and integrated manner that best fits their pedagogical requirements and will most help them take their place as fully-actualized adults in the world?
What instructional techniques can best be used with this particular set of content-based objectives that also blend with and respect the cultural and personal backgrounds of my students while maintaining a whole child approach that helps achieve my global objectives?
But these questions are also part of the classroom world:
What's the most efficient way to get these test papers passed back?
Do I have enough copies of this worksheet?
Can I get Chris to stop jabbing Pat with a pencil?
You can't have one without the other. Focusing on the broad and deep concerns of education is like loving someone deeply and fully and never doing anything about it but sitting in your room and writing angsty poems. A broad vision without an action plan gets nothing done, achieves nothing for the students. But focus too intently on the nuts and bolts and you end up with a technician who completes tasks efficiently, even though the tasks have no real useful purpose behind them. You need a vision of how to get through the next year, and a plan for how to get through the next forty minutes.
Educational amateurs and neophytes often suffer from this balance problem. Beginning teachers may enter the classroom with Big Dreams about Touching the Future and Shaping Young Minds, but with no idea of how to get twenty-five teenagers to keep watching while the teacher writes on the board (chalk, white or smart). I've also seen new teachers arrive with stacks of unit plans and worksheets, ready to deploy them while moving briskly through the textbook, but with no idea of why they're doing any of it except that it's their idea of what teachers do. Each CURMUDGUCATION: Forest and Trees: